#OTalk/#Occhat – An Idea Whose Time Had Come

A group of Occupational Therapists (OT’s) had been participating in tweetchats including #phdchat (PhD researchers chat) and #nhssm (social media in the NHS) for some time. OTs had been utilising the #OTuesday hashtag to share insights into the daily activities of an OT. Chris Genter floated the idea of a more occupation focussed twitter chat.Once Chris suggested the idea, we felt the time had come to utilise the potential of Twitter and create an online public facing forum for talking about our practice and the theory that underpins it. A Twitter account, Facebook page and blog were set up in September/October 2011.

#OTalk/#Occhat was quickly up and running. The use of two hashtags enables a distinction to be made between chats that focus specifically on OT practice issues (#OTalk) and chats that explore occupational science issues (#Occhat). This has the added benefit of opening the discussion to a wider audience outside of the OT profession. The first #OTalk twitter chat, “Our identity as OTs and how we explain our role” was held on 25th October 2011. The following week, we launched #Occhat and explored Occupational Science and what it means to us. An archive of these and many more chats can be found on the blog.

Analytics from Healthcare Hashtags has shown that #OTalk has engaged 423 participants making 9423 tweets that have reached 8,159,709 people. #Occhat has seen 226 individuals generate 6780 tweets with 5,145,181 impressions. The numbers are very encouraging, however these do not demonstrate the value of the experience when joining in the chats. Here is what participants have had to say:

#OTalk and #Occhat have contributed to the development of a community of practice in a public forum. We love that this is such a mixed and diverse community in terms of experience and this is reflected in the make-up of the organisational team and participants.

So one year on and both #OTalk and #Occhat are going from strength to strength. The above comments from participants give a flavour of the wide ranging opportunities that participation can offer to individuals. Not least how social media can support and enhance continued professional development (CPD) activities. Oh yes, don’t forget it is free, you just invest a little time and be open to experiencing a supportive and welcoming community that loves to share.

We invite more people to get involved, suggest topics, write and share their own summaries or reflections, comment on the blog and let us know how #OTalk or #Occhat has impacted on practice and supported CPD. People don’t have to have a twitter account to get involved and we’d love to hear from those who have been lurking. As we move into the second year of #OTalk and #Occhat we are expanding into other social media platforms to support the twitter chats and provide greater opportunities to engage and promote the profession. So keep your eyes wide open and we look forward to connecting and sharing with you soon.

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Thanks to @gilliancrossley for artwork.

British Association of Occupational Therapy members can access the published article here OTNews November 2012.